Making an Audio Helmet: Giro G9 & Sennheiser HD-201

I bought a used snowboarding setup off of Craigslist at the end of last year, which I will write about soon, but for now I’ll just say that it’s probably my favorite purchase of the last couple years. I think it’s the reason I am actually not minding this winter the Northeast is having. In fact I’ve already been out on slopes the last three weekends. Each time I go out I get more and more comfortable and better and better. I’m flying down the mounting, hitting jibs, and grabbing some jumps. As I was getting better and being a bit more daring I realized I needed a helmet, no fun in the snow is worth a head injury. Since there isn’t a REI in New York City I went over to the local EMS, where they were having a 20% off sale on snow helmets, and grabbed a Giro G9. The helmet works great, I mean it fits well and can easily be adjusted for the temperature. (I will review its head protecting ability when that opportunity arises, not going to go out of my way though.) I did notice one issue though, music. I like to ride with earphones so I was immediately jealous of the riders with built in earphones in their helmets. When I got home home I started researching where I could purchase some. I was in luck, Skullcandy and Giro collaborated to make a pair of earphones that slide into the G9 ear pads. Awesome, right? Yes, until I read the reviews, way too many bad reviews questioning durability. Also I started wondering how much earphone I would be getting for what would be 30 bucks. I couldn’t find any specs easily online so I’m really figuring that these are basically going to be low end Skullcandy earphones up-charged as they are made to fit something specific. I figure I can do this whole thing better myself.

I got onto Amazon and found some low end Sennheiser earphones, the HD201, not an amazing earphone, but great reviews and at under $20 I’m not going to be pissed if this project fails. When they arrive at my apartment they sound great, I’m pretty stoked.

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I immediately rip into the box. A couple of screws later and we’re looking at the driver nestled in its plastic housing. The housing creates a little box around the driver, the white part there is a cloth like material, my guess is this creates a speaker box, helping the sound and adding some bass. No matter what it does, Sennheiser specifically made it that way so I want to keep it. Pretty easily I’m able to cut these boxes out of the rest of the plastic housing, turning them into the perfect inserts for the ear pads of the G9. With a little adjusting of the padding they nestle in nicely. The ear pads snap back into the helmet, I string the cord through the adjustable support in the back of the helmet and down the outside of the ear pad through a chin strap loop, leading directly into chest pocket where I keep my iPod.

So I used my new audio equipped helmet at Mount Snow in Vermont on Saturday and it work perfectly. Sound is amazing, loud enough and with plenty of base. The cord is long enough that I can remove my helmet for any gear adjustments without a problem, and if I need to remove my helmet for an extended period of time I just remove the cord from my pocket and stuff it in the helmet. You can tell my overall enjoyment.

To change in the future: After a few more runs, to ensure durability, I would like to: 1) Cut the cord at the base of the helmet and add an extension adaptor so I can easily remove the helmet without removing the whole cord from my pocket. 2) Create a waterproof mute button. Right now I just pause my iPod, but it would be nice if I had a button that could easily be utilized, even with gloves on.

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